Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday (September 13) praised Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, NDA candidate for the upcoming assembly elections, saying he has a very important role to play in taking the state forward on the path to progress.
The prime minister’s endorsement of Nitish Kumar, who heads the Janata Dal (United) (JD-U), the ruling NDA ally in Bihar, came when he dedicated to the nation three petroleum sector projects worth about ₹900 crore via video conferencing.
Without naming the opposition RJD or its leader Lalu Prasad, and its ally Congress, Modi blamed the state’s backwardness on a mindset which made them sneer at economic progress and thought lip-service was enough when it came to the betterment of the poor.
“Bihar has for long been plagued by a peculiar mindset. Road projects were frowned upon and people used to ask what do these have to offer those who walk on foot and do not have vehicles,” Modi said in a veiled reference to Prasad, who used to project himself as a luddite in what was viewed as a wily attempt to endear himself to the masses.
“Such indifference to progress also took its toll on higher education. But the last 15 years have been of sushasan. Infrastructure has improved. New medical and engineering colleges, law institutes and polytechnics have come up,” he said.
Nitish Kumar has a very important role to play in ensuring that the process continues, said the prime minister. The BJP has declared it will contest the assembly polls in Bihar with Kumar as the coalition’s chief ministerial face.
Modi’s pat on his back comes at a time when the Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), a key ally of NDA, is mulling to contest against the Kumar-headed JD(U). Paswan is a minister in the Modi cabinet. The party has finally left the decision to Chirag Paswan.
Referring to the pandemic and the large-scale return of migrants during the lockdown, Bihar accounting for a large part of them, Modi said, “This crisis has also presented us with opportunities. We can think of new employment generation avenues by setting in motion rapid economic activity.”
Modi inaugurated the 193 km extension of the LPG pipeline from Durgapur in West Bengal to Banka in Bihar, and two LPG bottling plants in Banka and in East Champaran’s Harsiddhi.
(With inputs from agencies)